How To Create A Neutral Living Room That Reflects Your Style + Personality

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No matter where you are in your interior design journey, you can learn how to create a neutral living room that’s a true blank slate. Get inspired with these ideas and tips!

large living room with high ceilings tv over mantel

Even though we haven’t lived in our current home for very long, our great room has evolved from a blank and cold area into a cozy and inviting space. When we moved in, I wasn’t sure what to call it…living room or great room? I settled on great room, but I slip all the time and call it our living room! Either way, it’s our main living space, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the transformation unfold. 

At the end of the post, you’ll find links to two more evolution stories. My Wishlist friends, Yvonne and Lory, are both empty nesters like me, and we have all moved out of our family homes into something more manageable. Make sure you click over and see what they are sharing.

neutral living room decor on sutton place 2022

A Neutral Palette

Let’s take a look back at what our living room on Sutton Place looked like. Because it was also decorated with neutrals and shades of beige, all of our existing decor fit seamlessly into our new home. The sofa and tufted chairs, the throw pillows, our coffee table and end tables. Almost everything in the old living room made the move to the new space. 

living room in neutral colors on sutton place 2022

Two exceptions were the antique dresser that landed in the entry, and the blue cabinet that now fits beautifully in our toilet room. There’s a niche in the wall, and the cabinet fits perfectly!

Where To Start?

Decorating with neutral colors is the perfect way to begin…if you aren’t sure where to begin. A few years ago, I shared my journey from a color scheme that featured bright and vivid tones, to a neutral look that was assembled with layers and texture. It was a slow journey, but I learned something new with each step. 

sugar maple house great room

What Is The Purpose of Neutral Colors

So when we moved, I gathered together everything I learned at the house on Sutton Place, and applied it to the new house. My main purpose for decorating with a neutral color palette was to provide a space with calmness and warmth. I wanted a neutral backdrop, so I could add colorful accents and seasonal accessories. The images above and below show what our great room looked like right after we closed.

Choosing The Right White

Our great room is big and very open to the kitchen, so I knew I wanted the walls to be the same color throughout. The first step was choosing the right paint color. I went to our local Sherwin-Williams store and got samples of every “white” shade that was available. I taped them to the walls in various places, and made sure to check them at different times of the day. 

neutral living room with high ceilings modern ceiling fan

I thought it was going to be a very hard choice, but in the end, there was only one color that worked with the kitchen cabinets. The color is Snowbound, and it’s a crisp, warm white with slight grey undertones. I was relieved the choice was so easy!

tufted chair in living room with plantation shutters

Snowbound not only works well with the kitchen cabinets, but it looks beautiful with the grey hexagon tile around the fireplace. We used a satin finish on the walls, and semi-gloss on the trim. We painted the ceiling bright white, which helps to lighten the room even more. 

shiplap installation over fireplace
tv over fireplace with shiplap

How Do You Make A Neutral Room Cozy?

Add Wood Tones

Using wood tones in neutral living rooms breaks up the sea of beige, and gives the eye someplace to rest as it travels around the room. Before we moved in, I wasn’t sure about the stairway banister that is stained a dark mahogany with black wrought iron spindles. I considered painting the wood, but I’m really glad I waited. Once our furniture was in place, the wood tones of the tables instantly made the banister make sense. 

dark stair railing in neutral room

Add Depth with Rugs, Textiles, and Natural Materials

The biggest step in our great room transformation was when the rug was laid, and the furniture was put in place. I felt such relief when this blank room began to look like home! Sprinkling linen pillows around, adding flowers and greenery, and generally warming the space up was fun and satisfying. 

sofa with blue pillows and round coffee table

Vary The Hues

Even though we have all neutral furniture, there are several different shades. The hues begin with white, they deepen to beige, and there’s even a hint of taupe. I love to add baskets and pieces like our rattan stool that bring in texture and interest. 

blue pillow set on sofa

What Colors Go Well With Neutrals?

My accent color is, of course, blue…but because this room has a neutral base, I can literally add any color in the rainbow. Golds and russets in the fall, or shades of red for Christmas, will fit in seamlessly. I can add pinks and peaches, or different tones of green. There are no limitations when you are working with a neutral space. The accent color, or colors, is where you bring in your own personal style. Use colors that you love, and that make you happy when you walk in the room.

wide open living room with etagere on wall

Finishing Touches

There are two things that happened well after we moved in that made a big difference in the feel of our great room. The first was the addition of the etagere on the big sofa wall. I looked and looked, and finally found one that combined wood tones with black metal. I had built-in shelves on Sutton Place, and I underestimated how much I would miss them, so adding a shelving unit made the space feel even more like home. 

etagere in neutral living room

The second thing was the installation of plantation shutters on all the windows. I love the uniform look that they lend to any home, and they are completely functional and practical. I don’t have plans to add drapery panels, which I know may surprise you! We enjoy the clean and crisp way the shutters finish off the windows, and don’t feel the need to add anything else. 

The “finishing touches” that are added to a room after the furniture is in place are what brings in your style and personality. Use items that you love, and that reflect your family. Add color if that’s what you like, or keep things neutral. Either way, your neutral background allows you to follow your heart in any direction. You will never be limited or held back by colors that dictate your decor.

neutral living room with plantation shutters

Neutral color schemes are easy to live with. Like most of you, I like to change accessories, and move things around. All of these neutral living room ideas make doing that so simple. So is this room finished? Definitely not! It will evolve as our lifestyle changes, and as our family grows. 

round coffee table with tray and pitcher of flowers

Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

Shop + Source

Click any image below to be taken directly to the product listing. Every effort has been made to provide sources for the items found in this post. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.

neutral living room with blue accents on sutton place

Now it’s time to send you along to see what Yvonne and Lory have to share. We look forward to sharing more evolving spaces in the months to come.

Designthusiasm | The Evolution of a Relaxing but Stylish Family Room

family room with sofas and large coffee table

StoneGable | The Evolution Of A Living Room


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  1. While building our home back in the 1980’s, I was excited to show my parents our house plans. “What’s that?” my mom asked while pointing at our “great room”. It’s the great room mom, like our den. So mom wanted to know where the living room was located. “We won’t have one, it’s a rarely used room”. Mom- “not at my house!” To me the living room was a place we kids (I have two older brothers) were never allowed into. It was a place where mom listened to music, read, and occasionally entertained lady friends or sometimes other couples with dad. Those times, we kids were sent to the “tv room” often known as the den.
    About 10 years later, my great room was the place of 3 big boys, a dusty old cowboy husband and 2 old dogs. (Of course, don’t forget the gigantic tv!). I bought a storage shed and built myself my first (I’m on my 3rd much larger shed now) she-shed! It’s where I read, listen to music, grade papers when I was still teaching, and occasionally entertain girlfriends. And best of all… no boys (or men) allowed!

  2. I’ve never commented to you before, Ann; but I wanted to tell you how beautifully I think you have balanced your neutral space with grounding color. I love having a neutral space but feel like the warmth of wood helps so much to give personality and perhaps even charm. You have balanced all so well. I love how you are able to bring in the colors of each season. And, being a blue and white person myself, I think your use of those colors brings a timeless classiness to your spaces also. I have been collecting and using blue and white in our home(s) for 40+ years and every single time someone comes into our home, they kind of “breathe it in” and say they love the blue and white accents. It’s always fun and amazing how emotionally grounding the use of neutrals and blue/white is to live with.

  3. Good morning, Ann … on your product links I noticed you had two different dip dyed rugs. A review of the first, less intricate one commented that it felt like burlap.? How is the wool one holding up regarding soil, traffic patterns or flattening, etc. It would be in our “family room” section of our great room with only Mr B and I using the area. A few family gatherings throughout the year. TIA

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Kim…my rugs absolutely don’t feel like burlap! I had these exact rugs when we lived on Sutton Place, and bought them again for our current home. I have the bigger pattern in our great room, and the smaller pattern in our bedroom. The great room rug is almost a year old and it looks like new. In my opinion, they wear beautifully. My daughter also got them in blue and grey. She loves them too. They do flatten a little bit, but there are no traffic patterns. Even with our little dog, I can clean them up when needed, and they look great. I hope this helps!

  4. Sue Jones says:

    Beautiful home. My Husband and I are also looking to downsize, so far nothing has caught our eye. I see a lot of TVs are over the fireplace my question is, doesn’t this hurt the neck to have to look up at the picture?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      No…a TV over the fireplace doesn’t hurt the neck at all! In our case, our seating is well away from the TV, so there’s no need to look up. Thank you!

  5. I’m also a plantation shutter girl all the way! Easy to keep clean, simple, fresh-looking, and expensive, but no replacing them or paying for cleaning drapes. They last pretty much forever! Beautiful room!

  6. I haven’t been very faithful about following your posts recently for various reasons. I didn’t even know that you had moved. Your new home is lovely and is decorated in your usual impeccable style. I love it. Now that life has settled down a bit, I will be a regular follower again. It is always fun settling into a new space and seeing how your “old” things look in a new space. I love the wall color that you chose.

  7. Your great room looks beautiful! You keep inspiring me! I am curious about your picture ledge. I keep returning to the idea of hanging one on a kitchen wall. Do you have any suggestions how high to hang one ledge? Wondering if I should visualize its height with my island in front, similar to above your couch(nothing is against the wall). My wall is totally blank (after stripping 2 coats of wallpaper!) and I would love to seasonally decorate there with pics or photos.

  8. It’s so fun watching your new home take shape… :-) Your great room is a wonderful example of maintaining your style while freshening up the look and adapting to your lifestyle. It’s just beautiful!

  9. Christine says:

    Great post! I loved seeing how you brought your great room together. I agree that the plantation shutters are perfect for your space.

  10. I am also interested in your shutters.
    Did you purchase them locally or were they from a chain? How was your installation experience? I have wanted to get shutters in my bedrooms for a couple of years as I prefer that look
    to draperies as my bedrooms are not large and I think the shutters will give them a crisp look but yet still have privacy when needed. Thanks!

  11. I love the 2 matching chairs in your room. Are they recliners where did you purchase them
    Love your room!!
    Thank you

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Lynda…the recliners are made by La-Z-Boy and I ordered them from a local furniture store. They took 11 months to come in! Unfortunately I don’t have a good source. You could probably visit any store that carries La-Z-Boy and show them the picture. They may be able to help you. Good luck!

  12. Your great room is really coming together nicely.I love the shutters, it gives the room such a clean look.

  13. Nancy Sharp says:

    Your great room is lovely. I like shutters on the windows too. They are very practical here in Florida to keep some of the hot sun out in the summer. When we first moved in 20 years ago I added drapes. But a few years ago I took them down and I love the simpler look.

  14. Can you help me source the window shutters? Thanks.

  15. Hi Ann, can you tell me more about the sofa from Walmart? Is it comfortable and is the color have any yellow in it? I am looking for a neutral color sofa and I also like accenting in blue!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Peggy…my apologies for the delay in answering. My sofa isn’t from Walmart. It’s from a now-bankrupt company and no longer available, so I tried to link to a very similar item. Unfortunately, it appears that the sofa I linked to is now sold out. I wish I could be more helpful. Thank you for your patience!

  16. Your great room looks lovely, you know how to make any space look comfy and elegant.😍 Your shutters look so crisp and clean.. they make the room “come together”. Looking forward to seeing pictures your new fur baby in your different rooms.